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Steffani: Duetti Da Camera


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Steffani: Duetti Da Camera + Duetti da Camera + Steffani: Stabat Mater / Bartoli
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Product details

  • Audio CD (12 Nov. 2012)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Deutsche Gramophon (Archiv)
  • ASIN: B0097AQF7Q
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 246,297 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Tu m'aspettasti al mare - Daniela Mazzucato & John Elwes
2. M'hai da piangere un dì - Carolyn Watkinson & Paul Esswood
3. Io voglio provar - Daniela Mazzucato & John Elwes
4. Placidissime catene - Carolyn Watkinson & Paul Esswood
5. Già tu parti - Carolyn Watkinson & Paul Esswood
6. E perché non m'uccidete - Daniela Mazzucato & John Elwes
7. No, no, no, non voglio se devo amare - Paul Esswood & John Elwes
8. Libertà! Libertà! - Daniela Mazzucato & Carolyn Watkinson

Product Description

In a variety of combinations the four soloists on Steffani: Duetti Da Camera – two sopranos and two tenors – present eight chamber duets (duetti da camera) by Baroque composer Agostino Steffani to the accompaniment of harpsichord and cello. They range from amorous laments to amorous rejoicings, ending with a plea for liberty from love’s bonds. With its new attractive cover, the CD booklet has a full introduction to Steffani and his works, the texts are presented in the original Italian with English translation.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Stephen Midgley TOP 500 REVIEWER on 12 Nov. 2012
Format: Audio CD
This is a welcome reissue of one of DG Archiv's classic recordings, originally made in 1981 and then issued on CD in 1993 as part of the Collectio Argentea series. The first thing to say about it is that this is music of great subtlety and beauty; for Agostino Steffani's eighty or so chamber duets are among the exquisitely intimate masterpieces of baroque music, much admired and emulated in his time and for many years afterwards, and just as appealing to us today.

The present disc brings us a representative selection of eight of them, sung by excellent musicians in convincing style. The singers, performing the duets in various combinations, are Daniela Mazzucato (soprano), Carolyn Watkinson (mezzo), Paul Esswood (ct) and John Elwes (tenor), supported by Wouter Möller on cello and Alan Curtis directing from the harpsichord. All the singers cope pretty well with works that are vocally extremely demanding, although I found the continuo playing a bit too straitlaced for my liking.

The trouble is that, good as this recording is, there is an even better one on the Glossa label sung by Rossana Bertini and Claudio Cavina (Duetti Da Camera). This brings us seven of Steffani's duets, with only one duplication in the form of "Placidissime catene" which sounds even better there than on the present disc. The two singers in the Glossa recording make an absolutely superb team, performing with both passion and impeccable style; the instrumental support is richer and more diverse, including at various times harp, theorbo, viola da gamba and harpsichord.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 3 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Steffani duets - the second best recording 11 Dec. 2012
By Stephen Midgley - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
This is a welcome reissue of one of DG Archiv's classic recordings, originally made in 1981 and then issued on CD in 1993 as part of the Collectio Argentea series. The first thing to say about it is that this is music of great subtlety and beauty; for Agostino Steffani's eighty or so chamber duets are among the exquisitely intimate masterpieces of baroque music, much admired and emulated in his time and for many years afterwards, and just as appealing to us today.

The present disc brings us a representative selection of eight of them, sung by excellent musicians in convincing style. The singers, performing the duets in various combinations, are Daniela Mazzucato (soprano), Carolyn Watkinson (mezzo), Paul Esswood (ct) and John Elwes (tenor), supported by Wouter Möller on cello and Alan Curtis directing from the harpsichord. All the singers cope pretty well with works that are vocally extremely demanding, although I found the continuo playing a bit too straitlaced for my liking.

The trouble is that, good as this recording is, there is an even better one on the Glossa label sung by Rossana Bertini and Claudio Cavina: Duetti Da Camera. This brings us seven of Steffani's duets, with only one duplication in the form of "Placidissime catene" which sounds even better there than on the present disc. The two singers in the Glossa recording make an absolutely superb team, performing with both passion and impeccable style; the instrumental support is richer and more diverse, including at various times harp, theorbo, viola da gamba and harpsichord.

So altogether Cavina and Bertini's disc is superior in style, texture and above all commitment, conveying to perfection the exquisite passions, harmonies and interwoven melodic lines of these works. "Crudo amor" - performed only on the Glossa disc, not on the Archiv - is a glorious example, beautifully expressing the simultaneous agony and ecstasy of unrequited love. I would certainly want both of these recordings, but if I had to choose one to begin with it would undoubtedly be Bertini/Cavina; it may seem hard but I'm suggesting four stars for this present Archiv CD, mainly to draw attention to the fact that there's an even better disc available of Steffani's duets. The present reissue again includes texts, translations and Colin Timms' excellent booklet notes.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
The Baroque OO7 30 Jan. 2013
By Giordano Bruno - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Born in the Veneto in 1654, Agostino Steffani followed the time-honored career path of boy chorister to organist to composer to Kapellmeister in 1688 at the court of Hanover, where he composed at least seven operas for the new opera house -- Enrico il Leone, La Lolta d'Ercole con Achilleo, La Superbia d'Alessandro, Orlando generoso, Le Rivali concordi, La Liberia contenta, I Trionfi del Job, I Baccanali, and Briseide in roughly eight years, during which period he also entered the priesthood with the title of Abbate. He had also composed at least six operas prior to his arrival in Hanover, several of them smashing successes. Steffani's stature in Hanover and Germany at large was not obscure; he was on terms of friendship with the Elector's daughter Sophia Charlotte, the eventual Queen of Prussia, and with the philosopher Leibniz. When the Elector of Hanover ascended the Throne of Great Britain as King George I in 1714, he took many of Steffani's manuscripts with him to England, where they have been preserved. In 1692, however, Steffani's career took a surprising turn. Difficulties arose over the succession to the Electorate, concerning which it was necessary that an ambassador should visit the various German courts, armed with a considerable amount of diplomatic power. The composer/priest was sent on this delicate mission in 1696, with the title of envoy extraordinary. His crafty diplomacy attracted the notice of Pope Innocent XI and Steffani found himself scaling a new career ladder as ambassador and privy councilor both for the catholic hierarchy and for various German princes. Musicians, especially trumpeters (sic!), had traditionally served both princes and city-states as couriers, ambassadors, and even spies. Then as now, spying was part of every diplomat's job. Steffani seems to have been quite skillful in his role as diplomatic negotiator; it's been said that he was among the most powerful men in Europe at the height of his career. Diplomacy's gain was not completely music's loss, nevertheless. Steffani continued to compose, though not as voluminously. Two more Steffani operas - possibly three - were staged in Hanover and Düsseldorf around 1708/9, but "etiquette" required that the composer conceal his name.

Steffani was well traveled, back and forth from Italy to Germany as well as to Paris. Whatever his priestly or diplomatic activities might have been, music was certainly never far from his mind. His role in musical history as the "unifier" of Italian, French, and German styles was far larger than his modern reputation suggests. Several of his operas have been recorded and/or staged in recent years, including the exquisite production of "Niobe" at the Boston early Music Festival in 2011, but Steffani's greatest fame comes from his eighty or more Duetti da Camera -- small cantatas for two voices and basso continuo -- a genre of which Steffani was and is regarded as the supreme master. The Chamber Duets are not frivolous bits of musical gallantry; They're replete with intricate counterpoint, antiphonal textures, bold homophonies, and sedulous attention to the dramatic affect of the texts. Steffani was a close contemporary of Alessandro Scarlatti (1669-1725), with whom he is often compared, and both a champion of and influence on Georg Friedrich Handel, whose "Ten Italian Duets" are patently extensions of Steffani's aesthetic. Handel: The 10 Italian Duets / Bertini, Cavina

There are two CDs availbel of duets by Steffani, this one with four singers conducted by Alan Curtis and another -- Duetti Da Camera -- sung by Claudio Cavina and Rosana Bertini of La Venexiana. This recording includes eight duets, two of them over nine minutes long, while the Cavina/Bertini performance offers seven duets. Only one duet is duplicated on the two recordings: Placidissime catene, her sung by Carolyn Watkinson and Paul Esswood. Both CDs strike my ears as very fine. The previous reviewer, Briton Stephen Midgeley, expresses a preference for the Bertini/Cavina performance. I'm not so convinced of any superiority of one over the other. I expect to listen to and take pleasure from both. This Alan Curtis interpretation was recorded in 1981 -- thirty years ago already! -- and has the elegant restraint that typifies much of Curtis's work. There's more variety to be heard here, with four voices alternating on the eight duets: soprano Daniela Mazzucato, mezzo-sprano Carolyn Watkinson, male alto Paul Esswood, and tenor John Elwes. On the other hand, the continuo on this CD is limited to cello and harpsichord, while La Venexiana also employs a theorbo. Take your pick! Either CD, you won't go wrong.
I really love this work 25 Jan. 2015
By Yoav Rothberger - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
I really love this work. Especially Miss Mazzucato, a great stylist, with a beautiful, coloured light voice, a great technique. I really appreciate her vivid performance and intelligent singing. She demonstrates what it means to sing Steffani's music. The conduction by M.° Alan Curtis is very good. A great page in the Steffani's discography.
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